It’s human nature to focus on negative thoughts, but this can make things much worse.
Research proves that negative thinking can cause, or worsen, mental disorders and health problems. Not to mention it can cost you your job or your relationship.
Learn how to recognize negative thoughts before they take over your mind. Negative thoughts can sneak into your mind without you even realizing it. Before you know it, they’ve taken over, and it feels like you’re trapped with them.
Luckily, psychologists have proven that people can conquer their negative thinking habits. Plus, optimistic thoughts can become their new default.
Here are some of the best ways to free yourself from negative thoughts:
1. Increase your awareness of negative thoughts
Often when we get stuck in loop mode, it’s because negative thinking has become a habit. The subconscious loves to make you do the same thing over and over.
Negativity is like a constant dripping. Only the droplets are worries, terrible memories, or imagined worst-case scenarios. Soon, that’s all you can think about, no matter how hard you try to stop.
It might feel like they’ll never end, and they won’t stop unless you take control.
So, you need to train yourself to be aware of when these thoughts arrive. Don’t just allow them to take over your mind.
Ask yourself these questions about your negative thoughts:
- Which negative thoughts keep showing up?
- Where in my past do these thoughts come from?
- Are they relevant to my life anymore?
- Is there proof that they’re true?
- Are cognitive distortions, lack of sleep, or hunger making things seem worse than they are?
Your answers will help you realize where your negative thoughts come from and why they are returning. They can reduce the fears or worries related to them as well.
2. What are these negative thoughts really trying to tell you?
Sometimes thoughts will arise because we need to take action.
For example, if you keep thinking that you’re lonely, what can you do to resolve this problem? You could reach out to more people. Although, maybe you’re afraid of rejection. Ask yourself if it’s worth the pain, or is it better to be alone?
See if you can do something to disprove or eliminate these issues that keep coming to mind.
If you can’t stop thinking destructive thoughts, ask yourself:
- What am I worried about exactly?
- Is there something from my past that is causing me to fixate on this?
- Is there anything I can do to fix it?
Imagine if your worst fear actually happened, write down all the ways you could handle it, and still be OK.
3. Lessen the significance of the negative thought
“It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.”
— Robert H. Schuller
The same situation can happen to two people. One will shrug it off and never think about it again. While the other person will ruminate about it for years. So, it’s all about how you perceive events in your life and what magnitude you place on them.
I know how it feels to have horrible thoughts take over; it seems like you can hardly survive another day. But, I’m telling you, no matter how bad it gets, life changes. Focus on the good things, and they’ll multiply. The same goes for bad things. Don’t get absorbed in the negativity. Take away its importance.
You have the power to diminish the impact of these thoughts. Chances are that they don’t even relate to your current life anymore. So why lug them along?
4. Detach from your thoughts
Often when we feel like we are our thoughts. If we remember something embarrassing or when someone betrayed us, that doesn’t mean it’ll always happen.
Thoughts can’t change who we are. Besides, they’re just electrical vibrations from our brain. We are separate and free from these messages if we don’t fall for them.
So, don’t distort your reality with false beliefs.
What you believe can change reality, and that’s very important to remember. If you think you are your thoughts, then that’s how you’ll perceive reality. Therefore you’ll behave in that way too.
You don’t have to believe everything that pops in your head, nor should you. Many thoughts aren’t accurate.
6. Do something that makes you feel happy
“Take a walk outside – it will serve you far more than pacing around in your mind.” ― Rasheed Ogunlaru
A fantastic way to escape a negative thought loop is to do something active and enjoyable. Doing something fun will distract you from dwelling on negativity.
The next time you catch yourself obsessing over a past painful event or future worries, say: “Stop!”.
If you don’t want to freak out your co-workers or family members, you can just snap a rubber band on your wrist.
Afterward, get up and do something else. The subconscious takes over when you’re sitting around and not being mentally stimulated.
7. Receive your worthiness
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
— Alice Walker
If you believe you’re unworthy of an incredible life. Guess what happens? You don’t experience one. No relationship or amount of money can make you more worthy than you are right now. All you have to do is to realize how deserving you are. You are an incredible creation that no one can replicate.
Align your thoughts and beliefs with this truth.
However, remember that no one is better than anyone else. No one is more (or less) valuable than you.
Not everyone will like you, and you won’t like everyone, but that doesn’t minimize anyone’s unique value. Accept who you are and anyone else’s opinions won’t matter. No negative thought can take this from you either.
8. Be more skeptical of your thoughts
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
— Mark Twain
We usually never question the validity of our thoughts because we have no reason to lie to ourselves. Or do we? That’s where the subconscious comes into play again. It will lie to you, but it thinks it’s keeping you safe from harm. You were hurt before, so it wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Even though that means you’d never accomplish anything fulfilling.
You can’t fall for these lies because succeeding in life requires that you take risks. They don’t have to be terrifying, but you have to leave your comfort zone to get them.
So, when you think about doing something new but you instantly think, “You can’t do that.” Don’t accept it as truth; ask for proof.
Remind yourself that just because you thought something doesn’t mean it’s the truth.
9. Laugh it off
Laughing releases the body’s feel-good chemicals that give you an overall sense of well-being. It can lower your stress levels and increase immunity and infection-fighting antibodies. That’s why people say, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
It’s hard to worry while you’re laughing! So call up that funny friend or watch your favorite comedy.
10. Start every day off right
If you wake up every day and tell yourself you feel horrible, then that’s how you’ll feel. That will start the downward spiral of your perception. You’ll talk down to yourself about your looks, your clothes, where you live, and your car. Then you’ll worry about how terrible work is going to be today and so on. Guaranteed, you’ll have a miserable day!
But what you think is within your control. You don’t have to be a slave to these random feelings.
What if, instead, you were thankful for everything you have in life? What if you woke up happy to have a nice warm bed and a place to live? Imagine if you didn’t have anywhere to sleep? Think about how it’d be if you didn’t have a job?
If you can’t change your situation, it’s best to accept it and be thankful for what you have.
In short, you will need to put in the effort to control your negative thoughts. Reading this information won’t solve the problem. It would be best if you took action when despairing memories arose and did it repeatedly.
You can take charge of your life and free yourself from irrational fears and useless worrying. Like any new skill, it takes practice and repetition. Changing negative thoughts takes time, but you can do it!
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